An excavator piles natural forest logs at a log pond inside a PT. Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (PT RAPP) pulpwood concession on Pulau Pedang, Bengkalis Regency, Riau Province. © Ulet Ifansasti / Greenpeace
Greenpeace has opened a new front in its campaign against a controversial Indonesian logging company by targeting one of its major financiers: Banco Santander.
In a blog post Tuesday, Greenpeace signaled that Santander (NYSE:SAN), one of the world’s largest banks, was fair game in its effort to push Asia Pacific Resources International Limited (APRIL) to stop destroying rainforests and peatlands.
“Diggers are tearing up Indonesia’s rainforest – home to endangered tigers, orangutans and sun bears – and Santander is bankrolling the paper company that’s leading this destruction,” the activist group said, noting that the bank brokered a $600 million loan to APRIL in 2012. “The greatest threat to Indonesia’s rainforests is a pulp and paper company named APRIL. It is chopping down tens of thousands of hectares of forest and feeding rainforest trees into its pulp mill to make cheap paper and packaging.”
“This destruction is driving APRIL’s customers away. But the paper company is being kept afloat by a cabal of banks that have loaned it hundreds of millions of pounds – money that helps APRIL cut down the rainforest.”
Greenpeace demonstrator in London on February 10, 2015. Courtesy of Greenpeace.
As part of the campaign, Greenpeace protesters gathered at a Santander branch on Kensington High Street in London, handing out leaflets to customers and passersby.
“Santander claims to be a responsible bank. It has all sorts of policies about ethical investment. So why is it ploughing its customers’ money into this forest destroyer,” stated Greenpeace.
“Santander spends millions on its branding, and it cares what people think. If we show Santander how outrageous these loans are, we can force it to stop bankrolling companies like APRIL that are chopping down rainforests.”
Recent large-scale clearance of peatland forest inside a PT. Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (PT RAPP) pulpwood concession on Pulau Pedang
Greenpeace has stepped up its campaign against APRIL after it and other groups recently documented ongoing destruction of deep peat forests in APRIL supplier concessions in Sumatra. APRIL has said the activity is consistent with the sustainability policy it established just over a year ago.
APRIL’s continued logging comes in sharp contrast to its chief competitor, Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), which established a zero deforestation policy in 2013 after long-running campaigns by Greenpeace and other NGOs. A recent audit by Rainforest Alliance confirmed that APP has ceased clearing natural forests for plantations.